Time for an Alawite State in Syria

(Ha'aretz) Ely Karmon - The implosion of the Syrian state and the formation of a separate Alawite mini-state is now a plausible outcome of the conflict. The inevitable collapse of the Assad regime is likely to provoke tremendous acts of revenge by Sunnis against their former rulers, the Alawites. The Alawite leadership is aware of this impending threat, and has prepared for a retreat to an "Alawite Fortress" in the Mediterranean coast region and the Alawite Mountains; to create a neutral "buffer zone," the regime has already ethnically cleansed the Sunni rural areas near the big cities bordering their enclave. Lebanese observers have mentioned a plan to build a territorial corridor between the Alawite statelet and the Shia regions in Lebanon that are controlled by Hizbullah and by sympathetic Christians, who fear a radicalization of the Lebanese Sunnis more than all else. The battles that some 1,500 Hizbullah fighters are waging in Syria are contributing to this plan. The Assad government could transfer its huge non-conventional weapons arsenal to this territory to serve as an ultimate insurance policy against a massacre of the Alawites. A radical Alawite state with non-conventional capabilities, with the presence of an Iranian expeditionary force, a territorial link to Hizbullah strongholds in Lebanon, plus a Russian strategic military umbrella in Tartous is a recipe for continuing instability. The writer is the Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

2013-03-21 00:00:00

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